Heart Failure: Should I Get a Pacemaker (Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy)?

Heart Disease

Decision Point

You may want to have a say in this decision, or you may simply want to follow your doctor’s recommendation. Either way, this information will help you understand what your choices are so that you can talk to your doctor about them.

Heart Failure: Should I Get a Pacemaker (Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy)?

Get the facts

Your options

  • Get a pacemaker for heart failure.
  • Don’t get a pacemaker for heart failure.

A pacemaker for heart failure is used for cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT). This type of pacemaker is different from pacemakers used to treat other heart rhythm problems, such as atrial fibrillation and bradycardia. This topic is only about pacemakers for heart failure. You might hear it only called cardiac resynchronization therapy, or CRT.

Key points to remember

  • A pacemaker for heart failure, also called cardiac resynchronization therapy or CRT, can help you feel better so you can do your daily activities. It also may help keep you out of the hospital and help you live longer.
  • If you get a pacemaker, you still need to take medicines for heart failure. You’ll also need to follow a healthy lifestyle to help treat heart failure. This may include watching how much fluid you drink, eating healthy foods that are low in salt, and not smoking.
  • Heart experts have guidelines about who might need a pacemaker. Talk to your doctor about the reasons that you might need one. For example, a pacemaker may be a good choice if you have moderate or severe heart failure and your heart’s ventricles don’t pump at the same time.
  • A pacemaker sends electrical pulses to your heart to help it work better. You can’t feel the pulses.
  • There can be problems from having a pacemaker placed in your chest. The wires (called leads) that connect the pacemaker to your heart can move from the spot where they were placed. You could get an infection where the pacemaker was placed. Or the pacemaker or leads might not work.
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